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Cosmopolitan elegance and University-Town Charm

The new Kuoni flagship stores are distinctive places in which to make travel plans

Photo by Steve Herud

Last year Kuoni opened a further five flagship stores which yet again show that the Swiss premium travel provider is not willing to compromise when it comes to questions of design. Special local features are factored into the planning, design and outfitting of the shops so that, although quality standards are uniformly high, the resulting design solutions display a surprising degree of variation.

The exterior already suggests it, and the interior confirms it: anyone entering the newly opened Kuoni flagship store in Geneva city centre immediately realises it is a special place. The flamboyant 1950s architecture, with its curving staircase, large windows and copious light, and the perfectly co-ordinated blend of old furniture and pieces of modern design create a space in which piecing together a holiday and booking it can feel like an exclusive experience, as if the customer is at one remove from everyday life.

Yet the mood is very informal. When I commented to the friendly man at reception that I merely wanted to have a look around, he welcomed me in with an inviting gesture. I crossed fine rugs to a lounge area reminiscent of a distinguished old English club – and not just because of the London double-decker bus on display in one of the cabinets.
There are coffee- table books and travel guides aplenty to read. The small tables of various provenances, the impressive collection of globes and the memorabilia from all over the world combine to create an inspiring ambience. It’s not hard to lose track of time.

In fact this part of the store is called the inspiration zone, as I later learn from Armin Fischer, designer of the Kuoni flagship stores. The aim of this area is to “surprise, interest, inform and stimulate” visitors. The actual conversations in which advice is given and services sold to the customer take place at separate tables positioned somewhat more discreetly.